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64th Dwars door Vlaanderen - 1.1
Belgium, March 25, 2009
Van Impe gets his chance
By Bjorn Haake
Kevin van Impe profited from a strong team performance of his Quick Step outfit to beat former winner Niko Eeckhout (An Post Sean Kelly) in a two-up sprint. Eeckhout led out the sprint but had nothing left after being in the break of the day. A dozen seconds later Tom Boonen easily outsprinted an exhausted Heinrich Haussler for third. Haussler had animated the latter part of the race and his solo break forced a Quick Step team time trial to reel him back in.
A crash in the peloton, less than two minutes behind, brought down several riders, including Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) and Andreas Klier (Cervélo TestTeam).
With three men in the five-man break, Quick Step looked set for an easy win, but Haussler made it tough for the three Belgians Van Impe, Boonen and Stijn Devolder. When Haussler reeled back in a counter attack by Devolder, Van Impe went and drew Eeckhout with him. That put Haussler out of the game, but the experienced Eeckhout in the front was not necessarily good news for Quick Step.
Van Impe acknowledged that there was some pressure on him. "I wasn't sure I could beat him [Eeckhout], he is a fast man. But with the conditions like today, with the rain and the wind, things are a little different." Van Impe crossed the line with a big grin on his face, then buried his head in disbelief. "This is indescribable. My teammates kept Haussler in check behind. I have to thank Stijn and Tom for giving me this chance."
Van Impe added that Saturday at the E3 Prijs things will be different. "That's another level, there will be another name on the winner's board, but our team is very strong."
Runner-up Eeckhout came close to making it a third win, after his victories in 2001 and 2005. "But Quick Step was really, really strong today, having three men in the final break. I rode really hard in the end, so Boonen and Haussler wouldn't come back. Kevin could profit from that. Oh well, that's racing."
Boonen was happy for his teammate to take the victory, but it wasn't an easy task in rainy Belgium. "That was a really hard day. Haussler was really strong. We were lucky we had the numbers." Quick Stepdidn't adopt the 'Rabobank ' tactics from the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad when Haussler and Rabobank's Sebastian Langeveld were in a break. Rabobank chased it down, thinking they had better chances with Nick Nuyens, Joost Posthuma and Juan Antonio Flecha.
Early break to combat the cold
It was day full of rain and wind, where a break was quickly established to keep warm. The lucky number of 13 riders was ahead, including Eeckhout. There was also Van Impe, Bernhard Eisel and Frantisek Rabon (Columbia-Highroad), Artur Gajek (Milram), Mathew Hayman and Jos Van Emden (Rabobank), Andreas Klier (Cervélo TestTeam), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team), Steve Houanard (Skil-Shimano), Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras) and Sebastian Lang (Silence-Lotto).
Lang had to drop back when his captain Greg Van Avermaet crashed with less than 90km to go. The break was up by two minutes at this point, while the peloton had broken into three pieces. Lang buried himself for Van Avermaet before moving over and out of the race.
The pace was so high that with 74 kilometres to go the Van Avermaet group was still chasing and riders were getting dropped from the peloton. Under a strong final push from Gert Steegmans (Katusha), the group finally reached the tail end of the peloton, just in time for the first real climb of the day, the Oude Kwaremont.
The peloton hit the climb about 1:20 behind the break, but was only about 50 seconds behind at the top. The Paterberg quickly followed, a notoriously bad climb, especially in the wet conditions. Even the cars had trouble, almost blocking the peloton.
Quick Step put the hammer down to reach a disintegrating front group, placing four riders in the new lead group. Besides Van Impe, there was Boonen, Devolder and Sylvain Chavanel. Eisel was still there for Columbia-Highroad, now with teammate Marcus Burghardt. For the Cervélo TestTeam it was Andreas Klier and Heinrich Haussler, who looked particularly aggressive. Belgian Champion Jürgen Roelandts was there for Silence-Lotto, Van Emden for Rabobank and Eeckhout also stayed near the front. The gap went out to one minute with 40km remaining.
The decisive move
At the first passage of the start-finish with 30km to go, the gap was down to 22 seconds. First Eeckhout and then Haussler attacked. Haussler managed to be in a group with Boonen and Van Impe – not an ideal set-up for the German. Eeckhout went after them, with Devolder in tow, yielding a new five-man front group, three of them from Quick Step. The only Quick Stepper left behind was defending champion Chavanel. The acceleration grew the gap to 42 seconds against the peloton quickly.
After a few kilometres Haussler took off, forcing a team time trial from the Quick Step squad, with Eeckhout holding on. With 19km to go Haussler was caught and now Quick Step used the numbers to hit the German hard. When Haussler caught a counter move by Devolder with 17km to go, Van Impe went and Eeckhout went after him. Haussler didn't react this time and Quick Step was in a difficult situation. Their top guys were behind and Van Impe had fast man Eeckhout with him.
But they decided to keep it this way. Haussler tried to surprise his two companions a couple of times, but it didn't work. A last little rise with six kilometres to go shelled Devolder from the chase group, but that was as good as it got for Haussler.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Tim Van Wichelen/www.CyclingView.be
1 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step 4.52.55 (40.967 km/h) 2 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team 0.02 3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 0.14 4 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 0.16 5 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 0.48 6 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux 1.51 7 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 8 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 9 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step 10 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 11 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team 12 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano 13 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 14 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad 15 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence-Lotto 16 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank 17 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad 18 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank 19 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 20 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 21 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 22 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 23 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 24 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team 25 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux 26 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux 27 Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - N.G.C. 28 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step 29 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank 30 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 31 Iker Camano (Spa) Fuji-Servetto 32 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank 33 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram 2.15 34 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank 2.28 35 Janek Tombak (Est) Cycling Club Bourgas 2.42 36 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram 2.47 37 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 3.34
Dwars Door Vlaanderen/A Travers la Belgique 2008 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 2007 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 2006 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen 2005 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 2004 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 2003 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 2002 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com 2001 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) 2000 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) 1999 (2) Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1998 Tom Steels (Bel) 1997 Andrej Tchmil (Mda) 1996 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) 1995 (2) Jelle Nijdam (Ned) 1994 Carlo Bomans (Bel) 1993 Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger) 1991 (2) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) 1990 Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel) 1989 Dirk De Wolf (Bel) 1988 (2) Eddy Planckaert (Bel) 1987 Jelle Nijdam (Bel) 1986 Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) 1985 Eddy Planckaert (Bel) 1984 (2) Walter Planckaert (Bel) 1983 Etienne De Wilde (Bel) 1982 Jan Raas (Ned) 1981 Frank Hoste (Bel) 1980 Johan Van der Meer (Bel) 1979 Gustave Van Roosbroeck (Bel) 1978 Adri Schipper (Ned) 1977 Walter Planckaert (Bel) 1976 Willy Planckaert (Bel) 1975 Cees Priem (Ned) 1974 Louis Verreydt (Bel) 1973 Roger Loysch (Bel) 1972 Marc Demeyer (Bel) 1970 (2) Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel) 1969 Eric Leman (Bel) 1968 (2) Walter Godefroot (Bel) 1967 Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel) 1966 Walter Godefroot (Bel) Dwars door Belgie 1965 Albert Hermans (Bel) 1964 Piet Van Est (Ned) 1963 Clément Roman (Bel) 1962 Martin Van Geneugden (Bel) 1961 Maurice Meuleman (Bel) 1960 Arthur Decabooter (Bel) 1959 Roger Baens (Bel) 1958 André Vlayen (Bel) 1957 Noél Fore (Bel) 1956 Lucien Demunster (Bel) 1955 (2) Alberic Schotte (Bel) 1954 Germain Derijcke (Bel) 1953 Alberic Schotte (Bel) 1952 André Maelbrancke (Bel) 1951 (2) Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1950 (2) André Rosseel (Bel) 1949 Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1948 André Rosseel (Bel) 1947 Albert Sercu (Bel) 1946 Maurice Desimplaere (Bel) 1945 b) Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel) 1945 a) Joseph Somers (Bel)